As you plan your child’s birthday party, take time to reflect on how you have celebrated in the past. Since the first birthday, you have noticed significant changes in how your child has interacted with others in a party setting. The child has gone from being a passive participant to one who can now interact directly with guests. As a toddler, your child had probably played simple party games like pin the tail on the donkey or musical chairs. While these classic birthday party games are still fun favorites, your child and his or her peers are capable of playing more complex games now that he or she is in elementary school. Games dependent on physical abilities will always be fun to include in a child’s birthday party, but adding educational games and activities into the mix is a great way to see how your child and his or her peers have grown academically. Here are a few fun ideas to include at your child’s next birthday party.
Do you or any of your guests speak a foreign language? Use these special skills to introduce the children to our world of diversity. (This is also the kind of activity that helps break the ice when guests first start to arrive.) Begin by teaching guests how to say “hello” to one another in a foreign language. Once everyone has arrived, you can teach them the lyrics to a popular children’s song like France’s “Frère Jacques.” Next, they can learn to sing “Happy Birthday” using a foreign language.
Add a memory game to this activity. Bring out a tray that holds objects like chopsticks, snow globe souvenirs, foreign money, and passports. After the kids have had twenty to thirty seconds to study these items, conceal them with a cloth. Next, have the children write a list of all the items on the tray that they can remember. Award a prize to the one who has the longest list of correct items.
You could also include party decorations and background music as well as foods that are significant to other countries. When the party is over, teach guests how to say “thank you” and “good bye” in the languages that you have practiced throughout the party.
For this activity, seat the children in a circle. Since everyone may not know each other, give the children a few minutes to introduces themselves to the people seated on each side of them. Suggest they tell about their favorite things to do and about what their interests are. Next, explain to everyone what a simile is. Give examples like “A toaster is like a dragon” or “A gold coin is like the sun.” Ask the children to explain why the comparisons are suitable.
After discussing what similes do, have the children make up a simile to describe the person seated at their left. Kids can then take turns sharing their creative description. This activity is sure to get a lot of laughs, but it will also give the whole group a way to recall the names of the strangers among them.
Spelling and Math Race
This game challenges children’s ability to spell and make calculations quickly and correctly. It is also adaptable to all grade levels. Here is how to play: First, have children record a list of items as you read them. Next to each word that the children have written, they are to record the number of letters in each word and then find the sum of all of the numbers. For example, the list may read cow (3 letters), chicken (7 letters), piglet (6 letters), and horse (5 letters) for them to answer 21. You can also change the operation from addition to subtraction, multiplication, or division. Award prizes to the winners who arrive at the correct answer the fastest.
On a Mission for a Definition
To play this game, you will need a dictionary and writing materials. The birthday boy or girl begins the game by looking up a word in the dictionary that is thought to be unknown to the other children. The child spells the word aloud to the group which is recorded by each of them. To earn a point, they are to write down the correct definition for the word if they know it. If the word is indeed unfamiliar to them, then they are to make up a definition of their own for the word. After everyone has read aloud their definition, the real definition is read from the dictionary. One child may earn a point for an incorrect definition; the group votes on whose is the funniest, and that person takes the point. Another child then picks out a new word to begin the second round. Continue in this way until every child has had a turn to select a word from the dictionary. The winner of the game will be the child with the most points.